T.J. Warren remains out indefinitely, foot not healing 'at the pace previously anticipated'

The Pacers look forward to his return after he had surgery in January and now enters a contract year.

Exactly three weeks before the start of NBA training camp, the Pacers announced that T.J. Warren is not healing from left foot surgery “at the pace previously anticipated.”

The forward had surgery nine months ago, on Jan. 5. He then remained away from the team for five weeks, rejoining them in mid-February with his foot in a walking boot.

Thirteen minutes after the Pacers released an update on Tuesday afternoon, Warren shared his own thoughts on Twitter. (Last season, he was furious — and adamantly denied the report — after a reporter said he requested a trade before the season. So it wasn’t surprising that Warren was compelled to weigh in.)

“Pacer fans,” he wrote, “just wanted you to hear this straight from me. I’m making sure I do this rehab process right so that I can get back on the court as soon as I can and be the best that I can.”

Warren sustained the injury, which is specifically to the navicular bone in the middle of his left foot, a week into the 2020-21 season and only appeared in four games. And as I wrote back when it was first announced — it has a high return-to-play rate, but involves a lengthy recovery.

“It’s not like a (soft) tissue thing,” he said in May after the season. “It’s like two screws and a bone. It (takes) a little bit more time to get healed enough to be able to compete in a high-level basketball game.”

See Also: 'It really hurts': Teammates react to Warren's injury

Warren had progressed to playing 1-on-1 about a month ago and spent a few weeks working out in Los Angeles, including attending the player organized and run mini-camp in late July. (Domantas Sabonis was the only starter absent.) But it was clear in my conversations with team personnel over the last month that Warren had a ways to go.

“I think he’s progressing,” Buchanan told Fieldhouse Files in early August. “He’s on a timeline that we’re working with him on and trying to make steps every day. We’ve had our staff out there working with him and checking in on him, trying to stay on top of that. We’re also being patient with it, too, and I think T.J.’s approaching it with a lot of care and discipline every day. I don’t know where that’s going to lead to in the short-term, but I feel good about having him with the team this year.

“With any injury, getting that comfort level of landing on it, planting, cutting, jumping — it takes a little time. And I think getting over that mental hurdle is something we’re trying to help him with.”

Warren, who turned 28 on Sunday, is in a contract year. So as he enters the peak of his NBA career, it’s even more critical for him to get it right. He already went through a similar injury to his other foot back five years ago while with the Phoenix Suns.

“I just know it can’t storm forever and the sun has to come out so just looking forward to that,” said Warren, who appreciates rainstorms and the state of mind they put him in.

When training camp opens on Sept. 28, there are several players who can fill in on the wing with the starters, like Justin Holiday, Oshae Brissett, Torrey Craig and others.

The Pacers open the season Oct. 20 at Charlotte.